Simone de Beauvoir
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Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was born on January 9,1908 in Paris, "Gender and died on April 14, 1986.
As a writer and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir played a significant role in 20th century feminism, and continues to influence new generations of feminists.
Her importance as a philosopher has only recently been recognised, a result of her prolific writings of non-philosophical works (<i>Les Mandarins</i> for eg. which won the Prix Goncourt, France’s highest literary honour). At the time, many of her philosophical writings were read as echoes of sartre rather than explored for their own contributions because it was only "natural" to think of a woman as a disciple of her male companion. The second concerns the fact that she wrote about women. The<i>Second Sex</i> would not be counted as philosophy because it dealt with sex, hardly a burning philosophical issue according to her contemporaries.
In the chapter "Woman: Myth and Reality", Beauvoir argued that men made women the "Other" in the society by putting a false aura of "mystery" around them. Men used this "mystery" as an excuse for not understanding women, or their problems, so that they would not have to help them. Thus, men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy. It is the social construction of Woman as the quintessential Other that Beauvoir identifies as fundamental to women’s oppression.
Beauvoir argued that women have been considered deviant, abnormal, throughout History. Even famous women have considered men to be the ideal toward which women should aspire. According to Beauvoir, this attitude limited women’s success by maintaining the perception that they were a deviation from the normal, and were always outsiders attempting to emulate "normality". She believed that for feminism to move forward, this assumption must be set aside.
Beauvoir believed that existence precedes essence, hence one is not born a woman, but becomes one. Thus, the main thesis of The Second Sex sets out a feminist existentialism, which prescribes a moral revolution.
Beauvoir asserted that women are as capable of choice as men, and thus can choose to elevate themselves, moving beyond the ‘immanence’ to which they were previously resigned and reaching ‘transcendence’, a position in which one takes responsibility for oneself and the world, where one chooses one’s freedom. Her works of fiction focus on women who take responsibility for themselves by making life-altering decisions, and the many volumes of her own autobiography exhibit the application of similar principles in reflection on her own experiences.